Bulletin for Sunday, October 17, 2021



223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

October 17, 2021

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

 Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)

E-mail:      blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com

Website:    www.blufftonstjohns.com


No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Prelude            “Adagio in Classic Style”             David Hegarty


*Call to Worship 

One:   Power and might and majesty belong to God who created and is creating.

Many: Thanks be to God for God’s mighty wonders.

One:   Like the image of the powerful wind, and heavens as a garment, God’s majesty is revealed in all creation.

Many: We look around us at the wonders and marvel at the infinite variety and beauty which God has created.

One:   Who are we, that God should pay attention to us?

Many: We are God’s beloved children, the stewards whom God has selected to care for God’s world. AMEN.

*Opening Prayer

Lord, everywhere we look we see the imprint of your creative

love. The wondrous works of nature show your majesty. As we

gather today to celebrate your love and creation, keep us

mindful that we are part of that created order, meant to be

stewards and not destroyers. Prepare us to work for you in

ministries of peace and justice. AMEN.

*Opening Hymn      “How Great Thou Art”          P. 51 (vs. 1, 2, 4)

Time with the Children

Prayer of Confession

We can get caught up in selfish pursuits and completely over-look the wonders of your creation, O God. All around us are majestic reminders of the beauty you offer to us. But we are weak and easily trapped into attitudes of indifference or destructive behavior. You have not given this world to us that we should destroy it, but rather that we should cherish it and make sure that all receive from its bounty. Forgive our overwhelming greed and selfishness. Help us to let go of the petty desires for wealth, position, and power, and bring us into a ministry which proclaims your love and justice for all your people. These things we pray in the name of the Master Servant, Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Hymn    “This Is My Father’s World”                    P. 21 (All verses)

Prayer for Illumination

Gracious God, as we turn to your Word for us, may the Spirit

of God rest upon us. Help us to be steadfast in our hearing, in

our speaking, in our believing and in our living. Amen.

Reading from Hebrew Wisdom Literature       Job 38:1-7; 34-41

Reading from the Gospel                                     Mark 10:35-45

Sermon    “Freedom Within Boundaries”    Rev. Katherine Beckett

*Hymn           “Be Thou My Vision”                       P. 502 (All verses)

Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

*Closing Hymn     “God of the Ages…”              P. 728 (vs. 1, 2, 4)



*Postlude      “Chaconne in Ancient Style”          Robert J. Powell


*Please stand if you are able.

The psalmist invites us: “Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise” (Psalm 66:1-2, NRSV). Welcome to worship at St. John’s UCC!

The flowers this Sunday are given by John and Ann Nye in honor of their 49th wedding anniversary.  Congratulations and God’s blessings!

Our condolences are extended to Heather and Jason Cox and their family upon the passing of Heather’s grandfather, Donald Thompson, on October 9, 2021.  Services will take place on Monday, October 18, at Chiles-Laman Funeral Home, with a family luncheon to follow in Oppermann Hall.

Next Sunday, October 24, family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service for Leigh Ann Alspach who passed away

in December 2020. The service begins at 1:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of St. John’s UCC.  Weather permitting, following the service, there will be a reception on Main Street where a yellow bench has been placed in her memory.

SAVE THE DATE:  Friday, October 29, Drive-thru Spaghetti Dinner, 4:30 to 6:30? p.m., at St. John’s.  Check with Connie Kempf if you are willing to help.

The ladies will continue to meet in Oppermann Hall on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 to work on the blankets and bears projects  You may bring your own refreshments if you wish. 

Men will meet at Arby’s Wednesday, October 20, at 8:30 a.m.

On Sunday, October 31, St. John’s will celebrate Harvest Home.  “Come, ye thankful people, come; raise the song of harvest home.” –Henry Alford

Also on Sunday, October 31, at 2 p.m., in Oppermann Hall, St. John’s will host Bridge lessons for beginners and those needing a brush-up.  If interested, contact Ruth Odenweiller at 419-303-4940.

Attendance for Sunday, October 17, was 34 persons.

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Great Service Mark 10:35-45

Childrend’s Sabbath/Laity Sunday

Dear Brother Jesus,

We follow you as closely as we can. We listen as carefully as we are able. We believe that we understand what you are asking of us.

But here’s what’s still hard, Jesus. Even though we pay attention, even though we pray, we still want to know who is first and who is last; we still want to know who is in and who is out; we still want to know who is important and who is unimportant.

We follow. We listen. We believe.

It’s funny because, of course we’d like it to be we who are first. And in. And important. But more even than being the exalted ones, we want to know who the exalted ones are. We want to follow you, but we are both excited and comforted by the world’s hierarchy. It’s a relief to know, even if we cannot be the best, that somewhere there is a best.

But then, we follow. We listen. We believe.

Jesus, all the ways you speak in parable and mystery, of all the water-into-wine and walk-on-water miracles you perform, of all the healing, of all the times that people sat down with you and got up with their hunger fed, their thirst quenched, this is the hardest to understand.

But this is the truth of what you proclaim. There is no in or out. There is no first or last. There is no worthy or unworthy. There is just a big circle of love and abundance, in which all are welcome, and all are equal. All are beloved and all are accepted. All are needed and all are held.

Jesus, we follow. We listen. We believe. Help us, as we honor children today, as we celebrate the gifts of all your ministers, ordained or not. Help us to live as we see, as we hear, as we believe.

In your many strong names we pray, Amen.

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Drive-Thru Spaghetti Dinner October 29

You are invited to St. John’s UCC Drive-Thru Spaghetti Dinner on Friday, October 29, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (or until food runs out). The dinner includes spaghetti and meat balls, garlic bread and cookie. A free-will offering will be taken for community outreach projects.

Please drive thru from Jackson Street on the parking lot side of the church.

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St. John’s UCC Service October 10, 2021

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St. John’s UCC to Host Bridge Lessons

Come learn how to play the game of Bridge or refresh your skills from a Silver Life Master! On Sunday, October 31st at 2:00 pm, St. John’s United Church of Christ in Bluffton is hosting
Bridge Lessons – both for beginners and those needing a brush-up. Ruth Odenweiller is the
Director of the Lima Bridge Club, and she has actively trained beginners throughout her
bridge-playing years. With winter coming on, and many outside events and activities falling
by the wayside, now is the perfect time to learn a challenging and social game that can be
played with a small group and social distancing indoors. As few as 4 people can enjoy a
great game.

Feel free to call Ruth at 419.303.4940 with your questions and let her know if you plan to
attend! Space is limited and social distancing is observed and masks are required. St.
John’s United Church of Christ is located at 223 W. College Avenue, and the Bridge Lessons
will take place in Oppermann Hall, with the main entrance off of College Avenue.

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Bulletin for Sunday, September 10, 2021



223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

October 10, 2021

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

 Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)

E-mail:      blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com

Website:    www.blufftonstjohns.com


No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Prelude        “Psalm Prelude”                   Stanley Saxton


*Call to Worship 

One:   It was easy to come to worship this morning.

Many: We feel welcome and look forward to

the worship service.

One:   How hard it is to enter God’s kingdom.

Many: We have to be ready to let go of the things

that tie us down.

One:   Get ready. God is waiting for you.

Many: Open our hearts and our spirits, Lord,

to receive your  word for us.  AMEN.

*Opening Prayer

Lord, you have called us here this day for healing, hope, and transformation. As we listen to the Scripture, pray our prayers, sing our hymns, and hear the words of wisdom, open our hearts to hear your claim on our lives; that we may fully and joyfully serve you. AMEN.

*Opening Hymn      “Immortal, Invisible. . .”        P. 48  (vs. 1, 2, 4)

Time with the Children

Prayer of Confession

Merciful God, we become so enamored of the glitz and glitter of the world. It is as though our lives were lived in “catalog shopping” design. We have so much and want so much more. We listen to the pitches in the media about the latest and best of everything, and rather than striving to serve you more faithfully, we strive to gather more and more possessions. Forgive our crass materialism. Break the bonds and chains of our oppression and enslavement to greed. Open our hearts to know that the riches of the kingdom are in service to you. Help us to understand the call you have given us to service, and having heard and understood that call, may we be about the work of the kingdom. For we offer this prayer in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

*Hymn    “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky”                  P. 559 (All verses)

Prayer for Illumination

Gracious God, as we turn to your Word for us, may the Spirit of God rest upon us. Help us to be steadfast in our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing and in our living. Amen.

Reading from Hebrew Wisdom Literature       Job 23:1-9, 16-17

The context for the Book of Job is Job’s dispute with Deuteronomic orthodoxy and its simplistic theology of retribution

Reading from the Gospel                                     Mark 10:17-31

These verses are the well-known story of the man whose riches stand in the way of his access to the Kingdom of God.  In this period of human history, wealth and honor were attributes of the most privileged and accomplished members of society with leisure time to pursue religious study and practice creating confusion about how these could be a hinderance to entering the Kingdom of God.

Sermon                                 Why?             Rev. Katherine Beckett

*Hymn  “Children of the Heavenly Father”          P. 83, (vs. 1, 2)

Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

*Closing Hymn   “There’s a Wideness. . .”        P. 61 (vs. 1, 3, 4)



*Postlude   “Jubilate Amen”                      Carl Simone


*Please stand if you are able

Welcome to worship at St. John’s UCC.  As our Creator designed green leaves to turn fiery yellow, orange and red, may today’s worship rekindle your faith with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

The Pastoral Search Committee will give a special presentation during the announcements this Sunday.

SAVE THE DATE;  Friday, October 29, for a drive-thru spaghetti dinner, 4:30 TO 6:30? P.M., at ST. JOHN’S UCC.

Volunteers are needed in various capacities to help with the preparation and distribution of the spaghetti dinners on Friday, October 29.  Connie Kempf has a sign-up sheet available for you.

Today is Pastor Appreciation Sunday, and we are most grateful that Pastor Katherine will continue to serve as our interim minister.

We are blessed!

The Board  of Christian Education will meet at the conclusion of the worship service this morning.

Ladies will continue to meet on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. in Oppermann Hall.  We will enjoy a time of fellowship as well as work on the bears and blankets outreach projects.  Please bring your own scissors.  If you wish, you may bring your own refreshments.

Men meet on Wednesday, October 13, at Arby’s, at 8:30 a.m.

The Neighbors in Need offering total to date is $430.00.

Attendance on Sunday, October 3 was 25 persons.

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What Must I Do? (Mark 10:17-31)

Access Sunday and Disabilities Awareness Week

Many years ago, ordained United Church of Christ disability rights activist Harold Wilke (1915-2003) wrote, “The festivals of the religious year show forth new meanings for access and liberation: In the glory of Easter–the stone rolled away–we see the barrier removed. In the wonder of Pentecost, the message is heard, understood, and seen by all. In the liberating act of Passover, the message is: “Let My People Go!” and the parting of the Red Sea. In the joy of Advent, God embodies divinity in human form.”

Yet, for many persons today…the barriers still remain; the stone is still in place; the waters are not parted, the way not opened; the words cannot be heard; the flame of the Spirit’s tongues cannot be seen; the message not understood.

Proclaimng the message in all languages for today means using Braille or larger print for people with visual disabilities, signing or special sound systems for persons with hearing disabilities; image, color and drama for people with cognitive disabilities; architectural access for people with physical disabilities or who are getting older.

Let the stone be rolled away! Let the glorious message be proclaimed truly, in all languages so all may hear and understand!”

Wilke’s stirring words begin the guidebook entitled, “Anybody, Everybody, Christ’s body: A Guide for Congregations, Associations and Conferences in Becoming Accessible To All (A2A)”. This guide is invaluable to those congregations that fear that becoming truly physically accessible in their church buildings is fiscally out of reach. After all, the idea of putting in a new elevator or enhanced sound system might seem daunting.

The A2A guidebook is a reminder that just as important as physical and fiscal shifts, are changes in habits and attitudes. While these may take time and spiritual effort, the effect on the church budget may be less than is feared. The process of becoming accessible to all (A2A) begins with an audit of your space, which you can find, along with the A2A guidebook at the website for the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministry (uccdm.org).

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Bulletin for Sunday, October 3, 2021



223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

October 3, 2021

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

World Communion Sunday

 Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)

E-mail:      blufftonstjohnsucc@gmail.com

Website:    www.blufftonstjohns.com


No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Prelude  “Meditation on ‘O Store Gud’”               Lani Smith


*Opening Hymn  “I Sing the Almighty Power of God”    P. 31 (All)

*Call to Worship+

One:   We come just as we are to worship.

Many: We come to this time to give and to receive in Jesus’ name.

One:   A blank canvas stands before us

Many: Outlined perhaps by expectations of familiar hymns and songs or patterns from the history of our church.

One:   Upon this canvas Lord,

Many: We are about to put the colors, the textures, the shapes of our service to you.

One:   Here and now we invite you to create the image of your truth; something to carry us through coming days,

Many: Something to speak to past damage, something to build on frailties, shortcomings, sins even:

One:   That your Breath, your Spirit, your Wind may take what we all offer now

Many: And bring into creation a painting of Love, Truth and Grace for your kingdom.

*Opening Prayer+

Bring us back to the beginning God. Help us to hear in the

scriptures the stories that open our eyes; to who Jesus was;

to who Christ is; to who we are.  Bring us back to the

beginning, God, so that we might journey his Way.  In Christ’s

name and in your love, we ask these things.  Amen.

Time with the Children

Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

Special Music  “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”  C. Converse

                                    Barbara Plaugher, Pianist

Prayer for Illumination+

Gracious God, as we turn to your Word for us, may the Spirit of God rest upon us. Help us to be steadfast in our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing and in our living. Amen.

Reading from Hebrew Scripture            Genesis 2:18-24

Reading from the Epistles                       Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12

Reading from the Gospel                         John 1:1-18

Message                                           Reverend Katherine Beckett

Response to the Word (Mark 10)

Holy Mystery, Bread of heaven, Spirit of wonder, Protector of

the innocent, by your word you have made us your grateful

children, open to the gift of life in your Spirit. Amen.

Communion Hymn  “Let Us Break Bread Together”    P. 699 (All)

Invitation to Communion+

One:   This is the bread we have to offer: with thankful hearts we bless it, with open hands, we receive it.

Many: Amen.

One:   This cup is full; like our hearts it overflows with a thirst for justice. Drink from it.

Many: Amen.

Prayer of Consecration

Sharing of the Elements

Prayer of Offering+

If there is a divine spark that is in me, let it flame; that I might

be consumed for peace.

If there is anything holy that is in me, let it be as breath; that I

might carry it lightly.

If there is any wisdom that is in me, let it cry out; that justice

be heard in my speaking.

If there is any love that is in me, let it sing; that love might be

the song of my heart.

If any of these gifts be found in me, let them bring life; fill all of

me, and become my offering. Amen.

Communion Blessing+

Let us: Take care of this world, it is a gift to us.

               Find love in all people. They share it with us,

               Make peace unconditionally, all life depends on it.

               And be a blessing. Always. Amen.

*Closing Hymn  “God, You Spin the Whirling Planets”   P. 24  (All)



*Postlude  “Come, Christians, Join to Sing”     arr. Don Wyrtzen


*Please stand if you are able.

+from Gifts in Open Hands edited by Maren Tirabassi and

Kathy Wonson Eddy

Call to Worship written by Alan K. Webster, Aotearoa, New Zealand

Opening Prayer written by Richard Bott, Canada

Invitation to Communion, Prayer of Offering, Communion Blessing adapted from Erice Fairbrother, Aotearoa, New Zealand

Welcome to worship at St. John’s UCC as we celebrate World Communion Sunday.  Bread of life, we are hungry. Please feed us. Living water, our spirits are parched. Please quench our thirst.

Thank you to Barbara Plaugher for providing special music this morning to enhance our worship service.

Today the Neighbors in Need offering will be collected.  Please specify the amount you are donating for Neighbors in Need on your giving envelope.

Next Sunday, October 10, during the announcements, there will be a special presentation by the Search Committee.  Please plan to attend.

SAVE THE DATE:  Friday, October 29, for a drive-thru SPAGHETTI DINNER, 4:30 to 6:30? p.m. at St. John’s UCC.

Remnants of material from Banner Committee projects have been collected and are on a table near the food pantry.  Anyone wanting material may take what you need; the remaining material will be donated to the Senior Center and other places.

The October through December devotional booklets titled These Days are available in the literature racks.  You are welcome to take a copy.

Mental Health First Aid Training is scheduled for Saturday, November 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Bluffton Presbyterian Church.  A minimum of 12 participants is needed. The program is sponsored by The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize, Hardin Counties.  To register email Donna at ddickman@passaah.org.  Deadline is October 15.  A poster is on the sanctuary bulletin board.

This Week at St. John’s:

Tuesday, October 5—Ladies bring your own breakfast and meet in

   Oppermann Hall for outreach project possibilities, 10 a.m.

Wednesday, October 6—Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, October 7—BAMA meets in Oppermann Hall, 9 a.m.

            Participants in the Worship Service:

You, the Congregation of St. John’s UCC

            Roger Scoles, Liturgist

            Barbara Plaugher, organist/pianist

            Blaine Bauman, sound technician

            Jason Cox, Ben Stahl, Bob Stahl, videographers

True Communion

The Holy Supper is kept indeed
In what we share with another’s need;
Not what we give, but what we share:
For the gift without the giver is bare.
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three:
Himself, his hungering neighbor and Me.

—James Russell Lowell, The Vision of Sir Launfal

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Enfolding Love (Mark 10:2-16)

Neighbors in Need Offering/World Communion Sunday

What do a Houston teen community organizer working to increase the minmum wage, a migrant seeking sanctuary on the Mexican-Arizona border, and a houseless member of the community have in common? They are all being supported financially by grants from Neighbors in Need (NIN). These are just a few of the ways that your offering to NIN provides real, tangible support to church programs and projects.

–With a background in community organizing, Pastor Darnell Fennell of Just Love Church in Houston,Texas, knows people don’t have to sit still for economic injustice. He knows the wider UCC feels the same, as seen in statements such as a 2017 General Synod resolution, “A More Just Economy: $15 MinimumWage, Living Wages and Job Creation.” So, he sought the NIN grant to introduce a couple dozen young people to local activists in the national fight for $15 wage campaign and involve them in learning by doing.

–The Shadow Rock UCC Sanctuary Action Team and the Reverend Ken Heintzelman, in an extension of the spirit and intent of their ministry of sanctuary in Phoenix, are in the process of establishing Hope Station Nogales, in Sonora, Mexico. Hope Station, which is funded in part by a $10,000 grant from Neighbors in Need, is a place where people in transition who are deported from, but have family in, the U.S. can find a meal, safe lodging, and assistance.

–Peace Congregational United Church of Christ in Clemson, North Carolina, is working side-by-side with other community members in the design and construction of a tiny house, a mobile residency for persons in the community who are no longer welcome at home. The $20,000 project is possible with a $10,000 grant from NIN.

To find out more about the on-the-ground impact of your Neighbors in Need dollars, visit https://www.ucc.org/giving.

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Thinking outside the box!

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